All posts by Liz Petry

Liz Petry is a writer of nonfiction, an editor. She takes great joy in conducting a workshop for military veterans.

What I’m Reading Now

A library’s worth of books have passed through since I last posted any commentary. I’ll pick up with current selections, though I may double back on older selections.armitage

There are at the moment two items on the reading table. I started Where’d You Go, Bernadette? last night and will address it soon. Tonight, I’ll critique something completely different. Simon Armitage’s Walking Home: A Poet’s Journey came to my attention a year ago when he discussed travel options along the Pennine Way in the NYTimes.  I found the description of his book far more enticing than his actual experience of the walk. I can slog through marshes, jump over streams, and fight my way up hills strewn with wet rocks without spending a few hundred dollars in airfare. (In fact I’m about to do a minor version of same on Saturday’s Twain-Twichell walk).

The joy of reading Walking Home (sorry that the library obliterated part of the title) has far less to do with the walk and much more to do with Armitage’s magical language, language he uses, like the ancient bards, to earn his keep as he gives readings along the way to earn his bed and board. I was nineteen pages and four miles in when I encountered his first assault of self doubt, which makes him so human: “Failure seems unavoidable, with humiliation and shame the inevitable consequence.” It’s always refreshing for a writer to know that one of her fellows suffers from the same, even if it most of his had to do with walking another two hundred fifty plus miles.

It also didn’t take long for me to figure out that this is a very British book. In the first fifty pages I’ve encountered “yomp,” “Victoria sponge,”  “pac-a-mac,“ and “lurcher.” Will read from now on with a British-American dictionary. The maps, looking undetailed R.R. Tolkein, didn’t help a great deal. I’ll have to dig out something more representative.

My biggest complaint, however, is that Armitage breezes through his poetry readings: so many people, so much money – sometimes a couple of hundred dollars, sometimes almost nothing. But he never mentions what poems he read. It would be wonderful to know whether he tailored his selections to the location or to the mood or – maybe  – to the weather.

Anyway, it’s a perfect book to be reading on cold and rainy days and nights as New England has reverted from late April to early March.

Yankee on the Bayou, Part Quatre

October 26 [Thursday]

Uncle Fisher had ten kids, and their descendants still live in the area. Here’s how it happened: I went to the Abbeville Cultural and Historical Alliance Center. Mr. Maynard is chatty, knowledgeable, informative, and unprejudiced. There was an exhibit of African masks done by the children on display. A woman named Lynette Robinson taught them a dance to go with the masks. Mr. Maynard said her ex-husband was a doctor in town and got me a phone number. I called from the courthouse.

The secretary said, “He’ll be in at 2. Come on down.” She told me I had driven past the office to get to the historic district. I arrived – they ushered me in ahead of the patients. He listened for a bit, then said he was from Chicago. “But if you want Petrys, go to Imam’s.” He gave me directions, and I walked into a beauty supply store/hair salon.

Here’s a photo of my dad’s older sister Rosa, who died when he was twelve.

Rosa Maude Petry
Rosa Maude Petry

Two women were sitting behind the counter. I told them my name, and they both nodded. We’re cousins, one on the Petry side, the other on both Petry and David – because Grandfather Walter and Uncle Fisher married sisters.

It was exhilirating, exciting, moving! And I found a Robinson who really is a relative. Jeretha [Petry Ardoin] directed me to “Uncle Eldridge.” (They pronounce it “Erich”). One of his grandchildren came into the salon and said, “He’s sittin’ on the front porch.” I tried to call, but no one answered. Jeretha said, “Just go on over,” and of course by the time I arrived, he had heard about me. He is a copper-colored man, not tall, but when he turned sideays, he had the profile of Geronimo.

He confirmed that Fisher and Walter’s father was George Petry who married a white woman and who also had a family with Combrey/Combery/Cambery Brown who was “mixed Indian.”

[The other woman at Imam’s, Lois Petry Jordan, lives next door to Jeretha and around the corner from her sister, Elsie Petry Dorá, whom I met on a subsequent visit.]

The rest of my notes are lists of names and phone numbers, disjointed records of property transfers, and a few notes on vital records.

But I received an invitation to another family reunion, and this time I know I’m related!


Yankee on the Bayou Part Trois

Before I get to the main event, I want to pay tribute to my mother, the award-winning, best-selling novelist Ann Petry, on the anniversary of her death in 1997. (For those of you keeping track, it’s still April 28 here.)

With that, here’s the next installment of my bayou voyage. And I’ve updated Part Deux with an undated photo of Uncle Fisher. He lived to be about 90.

October 25 – Wednesday

A frustrating day off from research. Went to the library, but there were too many people, and the books I needed were missing. A bunch of old white women and one man glared at me. The man said, “Lotta people in here today.” I left.

Got directions to the post office  I wound up at a bowling alley [in a shopping center] where a class of high school students occupied a few lanes. Maybe they were learning math? From there I went to the grocery store down the road from Mickey D’s, then to a loan agency. That guy knew where the p.o. was, which turned out to be only about a mile from the hotel. People here are really bad with directions!

Since I had eaten a huge breakfast, I wasn’t hungry for lunch and so went back to the hotel and called Daddy.

In the p.m. I visited Avery Island with my friends from dinner the night before. It’s a company town. Everyone pays $.50 to enter the grounds of the plant and gardens [over a little bridge with a toll house.] I assume the big house is the residence of the present McIlhenny. The tour was truncated because the employees (except for the field workers, all black of course) were attending the funeral of a former co-worker.


We took a fabulous driving tour of the Jungle Gardens. There was this small log moving rather quickly against the flow of the current. I saw eye bulges. It was a baby ’gator. Farther along, here an egret, there a heron, here, there and everywhere baby ’gators along the banks of lagoons and in the bayou.

The star attraction, a Buddha given to a McI. ancestor, is encased in glass, nestled into the beginning of the camellia gardens. The car in front stopped just short of the exit. The woman passenger jumped out and then gave a thumbs up as she jumped back in. We saw, disappearing through the brush and bamboo, a deer, and then another.

The bird sanctuary was empty (wrong time of year), but we saw moss and holly, a variation that looks more vine than shrub, also giant oaks. Why do their trunks grow crooked? Overall the gardens are beautiful. The only down side is that the biggest population is mosquitoes. I had visions of malaria, West Nile, encephalitis as I resisted scratching.

Sushi Friday

Sakimura, 496 South Broad Street, Meriden, CT, 203-237-8888

I’m taking a break from the bayou trip to revive Sushi Friday. It’s shocking that I haven’t written anything with this topic since last June.

Sakimura received a grade of B when I visited in 2011, though the online review is lost. The place remains much the same. It continues to be too much of a nuisance to visit often. Parking is easy, though the Starbucks drive-up next door may pose a hazard if too many caffeine deprived folk wheel in or, caffeine loaded folk drive out at the same time.

The welcome was OK. The music has morphed from techno-house to hip-hop inspired auto-tunes. The waitress at least asked if I wanted a fork. (The answer was no.) The salad is still drowning in glop, but it includes a few slices of radish and even fewer bits of red cabbage among the anemic tomatoes and chunks of iceberg. The miso continues to be a modest portion of flavorful broth with a rather large collection of seaweed and almost no tofu or scallion. Fish remains an excellent combination of escolar, snapper, tuna. and salmon. No yellowtail this time. Alongside the garnish of daikon and iceberg, the chef put a fascinating little dollop of seaweed, a bit of scallion and a shaving of jalapeño (?). A chewy very slightly spicy cointerpoint to the fish, rice and crunchy ginger.

This time few customers interrupted the quiet. No one occupied the hibachi tables, On the other hand, no one asked me how things were until the waiter came to clear the table.

Grade: B

Yankee on the Bayou, Part Deux

[October 24]

Tuesday in Abbeville more than made up for Monday in New Iberia. The outskirts are just like the rest of the area with lots of gas stations, fast food places, etc. But the historic downtown has people, a cute little courthouse, (they allow smoking inside!), antebellum architecture elsewhere, sidewalks that are elevated, presumably as a flood measure since the town is eighteen inches above sea level.

I stumbled upon the library and found lots of information. Went to the courthouse, even better there. My grandfather’s brother, Uncle Fisher, must have bought and sold half of Abbeville.

Uncle Fisher Petry
Uncle Fisher Petry

Lunch at Bollino’s (sp?) was a healthy salad of spinach and feta, and excellent mac and cheese soup.

Over at St. Mary Magdelen Roman Catholic Church, the woman told me I couldn’t look at the records, but they would tell me what they said, once the woman who reads French came back. So I returned to the library where I found an H. David in the remnant of the burnt records. (This was the name listed as the name of my great-grandfather’s father in Fr. Hebert’s records.) He was married to a Guidry not a Primeaux. Also Broussard’s first name changes from Azelima to Carmellite. Oh, well.

The lady at St. M’s typed up the certs – I have a feeling that the African blood comes in here at H. David and Primeaux. On the Petry line, it’s probably at the Combery or Cambery Brown level.

I also learned that Uncle Fisher was involved with the Pine Grove Church so have to check that and for Robinsons, which was the name of a cousin I met when I was a little kid.

Cousin Ouida Petry Huntsberry, left, and her daughter Theresa Huntsberry Godfrey, right
Cousin Ouida Petry Huntsberry, left, and her daughter Theresa Huntsberry Godfrey, right

Here’s a picture of his daughter, Ouida Petry Huntsberry, on the left and her daughter, Theresa Huntsberry Godfrey, whom I met at the 2005 family reunion.

Discovered when I got back to the hotel that the wildcatters were having a party. Ms. Guillard (receptionist) directed me to Landry’s where I ate catfish smothered in glop with shrimp and a few items from a problematical (tiny) salad bar.

The food was more than compensated by the horn playing good ol’ boy from Poland by way of Texas. He had gigged with Pete Fountain and a Texas polka band that got invited to play at Lincoln Center. When the woman told them they’d be playing at Carnegie Hall, the guitar player asked what kind of dance hall it was. And when they got there, he announced that they wouldn’t play without a keg of beer on stage.

A thoroughly delightful evening!

Connecticut Yankee on the Bayou

Among the events that occurred while the blog rested was the series of events for this year’s One Book/One Middletown event. I was supposed to give a one-time workshop, but no one turned out since it was a bitter cold night.  The book was The Silence of Bonaventure Arrow, which I read some time ago and may review later. Because it was set in the bayou I had planned to read about my first trip to my father’s hometown and environs. Here is what I wrote:

I attended a reunion of my paternal grandmother’s family, or so I thought until I figured out that I’m probably not related to them at all.

October 21, 2000 [Saturday]

Driving by miles of cane, a bayou (which one?) along I-10. Poor black people fishing off the sides. Flat, flat and open, without trees, flat in so many ways that Connecticut isn’t.

I flew into N.O., got lost, and drove to Lafayette and then back into New Iberia through city streets. It looks like New Jersey only with a lot of closed commercial establishments. Staying at a Holiday Inn that started life as a motel. Big parking lot, single story building. Lot filled with trucks. Hotel filled with wildcatters from all over including Australia by the sounds of their accents.

October 22 [Sunday]

Picked up food for the reunion: chips and dip, a coconut meringue pie, got turned around looking for Route 90. It’s supposed to be a main highway, but the surface, like most roads around here, makes it sound like the car has four flat tires.

Once under way, it was a straight shot to Welsh. [Current addition: the town has a population of about 3,000.] I even found the fireman’s hall without a problem – one could hear the Cajun Cowboys out in the street. But they could jam, too. On the way out there was one radio station doing Cajun fund-raising. The rest are religion, or the second religion, football.

The people were warm and welcoming, and they loved the maple syrup I brought as a raffle prize. When Larry Vincent arrived, he gave a big hug and said, “I’m glad to finally meet you, girl.” He brought pages and pages from Father Donald Hebert’s Southwest Louisiana Records. He also introduced me to his brother, Bufford. Mind you, these were people I’d have been terrified of if I encountered them under other circumstances.

One revelation: These folks identify more with Texas than the Deep South. Except for the French-inflected accent, they are cowboys. The men wear ten-gallon hats, and everyone dances the two-step.

And then we ate and ate and ate. The centerpiece was brisket, but I “made do” with salmon-broccoli casserole, salad, beans and rice, mac and cheese, green beans, corn, coffee, and a small piece of blueberry buckle.

[Added later. I told Larry that I hoped people didn’t mind having black relatives – didn’t put it quite that way, but he understood. He practically slapped me on the back and said, “We’re glad to have you; otherwise we’d all be swinging from trees by our tails we’d be so inbred.” What was I supposed to say? “You’re welcome”?]

The ride back was a lot quicker since both lanes of the bumpy highway were open.

October 23 [Monday]

I went in search of my relatives. My grandparents are buried in St. Peter’s, the original Catholic church in New Iberia with no record of where their graves are, but my grandfather’s death records are at the “black” church. St. Edward’s has a school that was founded by Saint Katherine Drexel, who abandoned her wealthy Episcopalian family in Philadelpha and became a Roman Catholic nun. My dad met her when she visited. Even though he was a tiny child, it made an impression on him. And in a small world syndrome, the current mother superior was born in Waterbury, Connectiut, and her borther lives in Middletown.

After lunch – a challenge to avoid meat products – I found the house where my dad grew up. 523 Providence Street, New Iberia, has been maintained. It’s got a brick façade, the tin roof now covered with shingles. But a little kid could still crawl under the porch from the side.

Other houses on the block are boarded up, trash scattered about, junk-yard dog along the side. When I showed Daddy the picture he said, “That’s not the house.” Either the numbers have changed, which is entirely possible, or the renovations were so extensive that it’s basically not the same house.

In search of information about my grandparents, I went twice in one day to St. Edward, which is housed in a tidy looking building a couple of blocks away from the house. The first time the office was closed so I went back. The second visit epitomized my stay in the bayou. The door to the office was open, but the receptionist was tied up with a phone call and a mailing list. She finally took my information – rewrote it all herself and went for the index file. It only went back to 1958. She found record books of burials, but they only went to the 1930s. In the meantime she fielded some calls while I spoke to the (handsome) twenty-eight year old priest who was from India. When the older receptionist – the boss – returned, she immediately found a tiny black record book.

Grandfather Walter Petry
Grandfather Walter Petry

And there he was! But he was buried at St. Peter’s R.C. Church. That church is huge and formal. The woman at the desk didn’t seem real happy to see me, but she located the entry and made me a copy. I asked about finding the graves. She checked her records. The only Petry was my Aunt Nolia, and there was no indication of the location of that grave. She exuded an aura of triumph. “Of course that would be up to the owner of the plot.” I was sad, angry, outraged, wondered, Grandma Adelaide, did anyone love you?

[Note added later: I guess Grandfather Walter was able to be buried in the “white” cemetery because Grandmother was buried there before the Catholics built a separate church for black folk.]

After all that frustration, I decided to treat myself to a nice dinner and spent an awful lot of time looking for the Little River Inn. The address in the book is wrong. It’s across the Teche in a shopping center and was virtually empty except for a table of doctors and insurance executives who were blaming lawyers for their woes.

The food was traditional. I had crawfish fixed six ways – fried, “salad” (a few pieces on the side of a traditional salad), bisque, étoufée, stuffed in a bell pepper, pie, and something with cheese. It was all pretty gloppy.

The best part of the meal was meeting a couple from Texas.

To be continued …


Returning Home

After little sleep in the hotel, we skipped coffee in the room and  breakfast at the hotel in favor of returning the car and checking in for the flight.

The drive consisted of about seven minutes, and that included one drive around the block because we misunderstood Siri. Our San Jose airport experience outbound was as easy as it was inbound.

We were both TSA pre-screened (no removal of 311 liquids, shoes, computer, jacket) and had plenty of time for breakfast at San Jose Joe’s. Larry had eggs, an enormous pile of bacon, some toast, and home fries, most of which stayed on the plate. I had a blueberry muffin with strawberries, blueberries, cantaloupe and watermelon. I somehow forgot to mention that we had been eating fabulous fruit throughout the trip, and I wanted a final celebration.

Can’t believe I forgot to mention that among the fruits were Meyer lemon trees growing all around the pool area at the Country Garden Inns, and that Manager Sunil told us to pick as many as we wanted. I dodged a bunch of honey bees, who seemed only interested in the flowers and  actually ate one off the tree. Besides bearing fruit and flower at the same time, it offers an oddity in flavor:  a cross between a traditional lemon and an orange in sweetness and intense lemon scent and taste. We took some to Lucey, who raved because theirs had gone by.

Breakfast set us up for an uneventful flight to Las Vegas. Then Larry discovered that the leg from L.V. to Hartford was going to be delayed for two hours. He was not happy because he expected to be able to catch the last half of the women’s game. As it turned out we arrived at 10:16 p.m. instead of 8:50 and caught the last two minutes on the TV in the terminal.

It was a mystery to me why the flight that left five minutes before ours departed on time and ours had to have the plane with equipment problems that had to wait for a replacement from Burbank.

Biggest disappointment: the message from Southwest about the flight delay arrived the next day even though I was on my phone in the terminal when it appeared on the (very limited) flight information boards.

Leaving Carmel Valley 

Being written in the Vegas airport. Yesterday morning we met John and Kathryn’s mother at the Wild Goose for breakfast. I had a huge serving of lox on a bagel and ate the other half as we awaited our hotel room in San Jose.

John’s accounts of military experiences are fascinating. They were driving half way back to Klamath Falls where Mrs. Golden lives, on Monday and completing the trip on Tuesday.

We returned to the room and finished packing, then made a straight shot to San Jose, about an hour and a half. Passed through Gilroy. I would have loved to see the garlic museum. We arrived at one and were told the room wouldn’t be ready until 2:30.

We discovered on check-in that the Holiday Inn normally charges $13 a day to park. That major piece of information was not on the web site. Reacting to our dismay, the receptionist waived the fee. The room was small – queen size bed, which occupied ninety percent of the space. It took us a while to figure out the a/c, which made a racket on and off all night, sounding like an airplane was taking off next to my head. There was no full-length mirror, only one tiny cake of soap. We received the wrong password for the Wi-Fi over the phone before I noticed that the information was on the holder for the keys, a piece of information that the receptionist neglected to mention. The curtains didn’t close all the way.

The safe-deposit boxes (real boxes with two keys) are in the office, which means one has to go behind the reception desk, accompanied by an employee. The woman assigned me a box without looking to see what I was storing. She should have realized that my laptop wouldn’t fit in a four inch by six-inch box.

Larry went to run an errand. I made tea with bags that I had brought since the room only offered coffee. In the bathroom, I discovered my first toilet with separate flush functions for “No. 1” – a half black, half white circle, and “No. 2,” an all black circle. Wow!

Then I called Lucey, and we made arrangements to go to her house for dinner.

After we showered and changed we proceeded to Menlo Park (homeland of Facebook) through the homelands of Apple and Google. The highway  going the opposite direction was a parking lot for most of the way, but we managed the “outbound” trip in about thirty minutes. Lucey has a Mini-Cooper, which she says gets dreadful gas mileage and requires high-test gas. I’m still jealous!

She regaled us with her efforts to do Japanese scroll painting on rice paper with gold metallic paint. I thought her practice works looked gorgeous. The scroll is for her teachers at the S.F. Museum of Asian Art, from which she is about to graduate as a docent after three years. She was using a beautifully illustrated The Story of Genji as a model. I didn’t know it had come in in more than the edition I read with small pen-and-ink images, but she said it was rather like Beowulf, with many editions. I tried to send my blog entries on the book, but the computer gods swallowed them.

Dick arrived shortly, and we opened the Heather’s Hill wine, which they loved. Larry had ginger beer, which he loved. We chatted, inside because it was hot, hot, hot. They have a/c operated w/ solar power, which makes total sense.

Dinner was roast chicken with a soul-satisfying Massaman curry and rice, the latter cooked in a traditional cast iron rice pot with a wooden top. Even if I can’t get the Mini, I’ll get the rice cooker! Tried to post a photo but was denied “for security reasons.”

Larry asked if he could watch the end of the UConn game. He and Dick bonded over that while Lucey showed me the gorgeous workspace that is her studio, which had been a garage, and the grounds, which have the most glorious lush plantings. We discussed her book plans and I made a mental note to send her information on the Collier brothers’ My Brother Sam Is Dead, which is set in Redding, Connecticut and depicts the ambivalence and in some cases hostility to the colonists’ position, all relevant to one of her projects.

Larry and I left after UConn won the NCAA title. Uncle Willard called while we were en route back to the hotel. We promised to talk when we returned Connecticut.

I did not sleep well because of the a/c racket and lights from the parking lot.


Carmel Valley Day Four

Being written in the lobby of the Holiday Inn San Jose airport while we wait for a room.

Larry went to Kathy’s Kitchen for breakfast, and I walked down to get the Times. The guy informed me that they didn’t reserve but there were still plenty. This edition has two pages of New York news tucked in at the back of the national/international section. And of course there is no real estate section.

Kathryn and her mother were already at breakfast in the motel dining room, along with John. Ash stumbled in somewhat later and we hung around until Liz and her daughters and their children, plus one husband appeared. We sat outside by the pool, as it got hotter and hotter and hotter.


Ash and Kathryn packed and left right about noon, and Liz took her mother and John to Monterey. Larry holed up in the hotel room with more basketball, first Notre Dame against Maryland (N.D. won.) Then UConn and Stanford. I went to Heller’s, which produces “organic” wine. It was OK but vastly overpriced and the pour was stingy. The Chard was again not oppressively oak-y but still a bit cloying for my taste. The best of the bunch was a Cachagua cab, which I bought for Lucey and Dick. The young women were a bit studied and not all that knowledgeable. The best of the place was the sculpture created by Mrs. Heller, who also designs jewelry. The room had a few odds and ends with more versatile selections outside in the sculpture garden. Here’s a picture of “Femme.” Other photos didn’t turn out so well because of the splashes of intense light through the leaves on the trees.

Stopped at the market for more peanuts for Larry, he having finished one container in a day. Stayed in the room for a bit and then went to Holman Ranch winery where I was served by Kathy, the very nice woman who sent folks to look for my hat. She’s originally from Toms River, New Jersey, and said she goes back every year for her mother’s birthday in February but didn’t this year because of the weather. She moved to California eighteen years ago and would never go back. She gave very generous pours of the Pinot Gris, steely and excellent though not cold; a Chard, a bit less cloying but also not cold; and Heather Hill pinot noir, the excellent wine we had at the wedding, plus she gave me a small pour of another wine that they have not even labeled yet. I rolled back up the hill with a bottle of the Heather for Lucey and Dick.

Larry stopped watching UConn game once the women had pulled ahead by a respectable amount. We then joined Kathryn’s sister Liz and Mom and John for dinner at the Running Iron restaurant at the bottom of the hill, which is part of the pizza place and the roadhouse Stirrup Cup, where the bikers congregated pretty much all weekend, roaring up and down the main street. Décor was rusted bicycles and walls Very basic. L had a steak and I had a grilled artichoke.

Back to the room for preliminary packing.


Carmel Valley Day Three

Being written at 2 p.m. (Pacific time). So yesterday morning we went to breakfast in the little dining room at the motel. Then Kathryn and I repeated our walk, finding ourselves at the office for the Country Garden, which we thought was much farther down the road. I arranged earlier checkout, and our great manager, Sunil, gave us passes for complimentary wine tastings.

I came back and hung around until Larry started watching the men’s basketball game, then took another walk and used one of the passes, at the Twisted Roots tasting room, which is attached to an antiques shop. The antique lady who ran it was wearing a great cloche with a huge purple and red flower attached.

Young wine tasting guy is moving to Chicago because he and his girlfriend are musicians. He grew up in central California but has lived in Montana and so is ready for the cold. He said he’s 7/8 Irish and 1/8 Native, from a tribe in upstate Washington. The gf is from Philadelphia, and we agreed that the local denizens are loud. The wines: a Chard, which was OK but a bit oaky even if it resided briefly in oak casks; a Cab, also OK; a petite Sirah, the most popular, was better than those old vine zins, lower in alcohol and no overpowering slap on the tongue.

I had already said goodbye to Carol and Susan, who were driving back to L.A., and was surprised to run into them at the local market. They had waited to see Julian and Tristen so I ran back up the hill and got to see them before they went back to Berkeley so they could pack for their trip to Puerto Rico on Monday.

When I returned to the room, Larry was jumping around like a little kid on a pogo stick because the Huskies  were ahead and stayed that way. The team was ranked seven, meaning it had to go through teams perceived as six layers better to claim the NCAA crown. As Larry recovered from his hyperventilation, I called Deb, who was screaming. He called Uncle Willard, who was equally thrilled but just a tiny bit less ebullient.

After everyone had gone off to the bonfire on the beach – a bit too cold and too windy for our tastes – we drove to Café Rustico for dinner. A recommendation from Kathryn’s sister Liz, who lives in town, it presents as a very French bistro with an Italian menu and French waitstaff except for the cooks who were all from Latin America. (I found out later they might come from the Philippines.)

Highlight of the evening: this little woman whose face was more of a Botoxed, face-lifted mess than Joan Rivers’ and with a dyed mass of orang-y hair, came in escorted by a small man. The young woman at the hostess station looked at the manager and said, “You go.” Larry and I burst out laughing. She looked a bit embarrassed. We asked if they were regulars. She said yes, and that when they are inside her perfume overwhelms the other diners and that the escort can be a bit of a pain. They ate outside. We were inside at a table by the window looking out on a pretty garden.

Larry had goulash, having said he wasn’t hungry and changing his mind from pork loin. He consumed the entire enormous portion. I had a Caesar salad large enough to give me lunch for today and an eggplant Napoleon with mozz, kalamata olives, pine nuts, heavenly dressing surrounded by greens and radicchio. I walked back to the motel and enjoyed the frogs croaking in the fountain at the Cowgirl Winery for the first few hundred yards. The only downside: There are no lights along the road to the inn and not many on the main drag. Thankfully there is a sidewalk but the uneven sidewalk and flip-flops underfoot made for a bit of adventure.